Customer satisfaction with rental cars dropped considerably for the second consecutive year, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Rental Car Satisfaction Study. Enterprise ranks highest in customer satisfaction among rental car companies for a fifth consecutive year. Hertz and Alamo follow Enterprise in the rankings.
The study measures overall customer satisfaction with renting cars at airports by examining six factors: costs and fees, pick-up process, rental car, return process, reservation process and shuttle bus/van.
The study noted that, as consumers and the travel industry face increasing financial pressures brought on by a sluggish economy, customer satisfaction with renting cars at airports has declined considerably for a second consecutive year. Overall satisfaction declined significantly from 750 points on a 1,000-point scale in 2007 to 734 in 2008, J.D. Powers said.
“The current economic climate is having negative effects on all aspects of the travel industry— from airlines to hotels to rental car companies— as staffing and operational cutbacks have resulted in diminishing levels of customer satisfaction,” said Jim Gaz, senior director of global hospitality, travel and entertainment at J.D. Power and Associates. “Some leisure and business travelers are avoiding air travel altogether, which has ramifications for airport-based rental car companies in terms of a shrinking customer base and decreasing revenues. In times like these, it becomes particularly important to deliver superior customer service and retain current customers, since new ones may be scarce.”
“Ensuring that rental car customers have a problem-free experience is critical to providing high levels of satisfaction,” Gaz continued. “Other factors that have a particularly strong impact on satisfaction with the car rental process include: adequately preparing vehicles so that they are clean and in good operating condition upon pickup; ensuring that customers receive the vehicle models that they reserve, rather than substituting a different model; and minimizing wait times for vehicle pick up and drop off.”
The study also found that, by a wide margin, customers with the highest levels of satisfaction and high commitment to a particular rental car brand are much more likely to use that company again and to recommend the company to others, compared with the average customer. Among customers who are highly committed, 86 percent say they “definitely will” use the company again, and 88 percent say “definitely will” recommend the company to others. On the other hand, among customers who say they have medium commitment, only 21 percent say they “definitely will” use the brand again, while only 20 percent “definitely will” recommend it to others.